At the beginning of a normal pregnancy, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg into your fallopian tube. Sperm fertilizes the egg there, and the egg travels from your fallopian tube into your uterus, where it implants itself and starts to grow.
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants and starts growing somewhere other than your uterus. About 1 in 50 pregnancies in the United States is ectopic, and unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies aren’t viable.
Ectopic pregnancy can cause pelvic pain, bleeding, and other serious complications, so it’s important to know what to do if it happens to you. At OB-GYN Associates of Marietta, our team is dedicated to providing professional, compassionate care.
How ectopic pregnancy occurs
A fertilized egg must implant somewhere in your uterus to grow into a healthy baby. But sometimes, an egg gets stuck inside your fallopian tubes or travels elsewhere in your body. If this happens, the egg can implant and grow in the wrong place.
Ectopic pregnancy can occur when a fertilized egg implants in your:
- Fallopian tubes
- Abdominal cavity (belly)
More than 90% of ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube, and these pregnancies are sometimes called tubal pregnancies.
Signs of an ectopic pregnancy
Initially, ectopic pregnancy causes many of the same symptoms as a normal pregnancy. These symptoms often include:
- Missed menstrual period
- Breast tenderness
- Low back pain
- Mild abdominal or pelvic pain
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
It’s not easy to identify if your pregnancy is ectopic on your own, but you should talk to the doctor if you have vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain. These are two of the most common signs of ectopic pregnancy, and they shouldn’t be ignored.
We diagnose ectopic pregnancies with a blood test, followed by an ultrasound to identify the location of the fertilized egg.
Signs of a ruptured fallopian tube
Without treatment, ectopic pregnancies continue to grow, and symptoms can worsen. Ectopic pregnancy can make your fallopian tube rupture, which is a life-threatening emergency.
Symptoms of a ruptured fallopian tube include:
- Sudden, intense abdominal or pelvic pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Shoulder pain
- Fainting or extreme lightheadedness
Ruptured fallopian tubes can cause significant internal bleeding and necessitate emergency medical care.
What to do about an ectopic pregnancy
If you have symptoms of a ruptured fallopian tube, seek immediate medical care. Even if you don’t have emergency symptoms, you still need treatment to prevent complications.
Ectopic pregnancies aren’t viable, which means there’s no way for a healthy baby to develop. The fertilized egg can’t be moved into your uterus, and if the pregnancy doesn’t end spontaneously, the tissue must be removed to protect your health.
In some cases, we prescribe methotrexate, which is an injectable medication that eliminates ectopic pregnancy tissue. In other cases, we recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove the ectopic tissue. We work to preserve the health and function of your fallopian tube whenever possible.
No matter your needs, you can find compassionate gynecology and obstetrics care at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta. Contact us online or call our offices in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, to schedule an appointment.